The country pub is a British staple. We love nothing more than a muddy walk (preferably with dogs) on a cheek-ruddying winter’s day followed by a warming, traditional country pub, with old oak furniture, period features, a roaring log fire, a moreish menu and interesting beers on (lovingly-maintained) tap. Pickled eggs and board games optional. It’s a classic.
So with this in mind, it can come as no surprise that the Best Country Pub in France, according to Le Fooding’s 2023 awards, is run by an Englishman.
Having started out in a pub near Bristol in the UK, Edward Delling-Williams trained in London. He then crossed the Channel to Le Grand Bain in Paris, where he wowed diners with his nouveau-British cuisine, before moving on to Buffet, also in Paris.
Next stop was Normandy, where he set up shop at Le Presbytère, which he describes as a cross between an English pub and Norman bistro and which Le Fooding reckons is the best in the land.
The old presbytery in Heugueville-sur-Sienne combines Delling-Williams’ bistronomic flair with local produce, putting terroir centre table. Situated between the sea and the bocage of Normandy, the inn serves up seafood, salt-meadow lamb, grass-fed beef, PDO cider and other fresh, local delights.
The kitchen is also dedicated to cutting waste and is invested in farm-to-fork dining. In fact, Delling-Williams’ aim is to create a self-sufficient ecosystem of restaurant, bakery and brewery plus rooms for guests, as well as a garden where fruit and veg can be grown and even, perhaps, a small selection of livestock. There is also a plan to host a weekly market in the restaurant’s courtyard.
Open daily, the pub welcomes guests for lunch and dinner and offers a regularly changing menu which reflects the seasons. And on Sundays, you can, of course, tuck into a “Sunday Roast anglais”, with a choice of meats, plenty of veg and “du Yorkshire Pudding”.
The Michelin Guide was quite taken with Le Presbytère too, describing it thus: “In a picturesque nook of Normandy, English chef Edward Delling-Williams […] fell in love with this presbytery that he has turned into a venue that is somewhere between an English pub and a Normandy bistro. Untreated wood tables, hunting trophies, a huge stone fireplace and bare rafters set the scene for hungry diners to dig into dishes ranging from mussels with aïoli and confit of duck served with a knock-out cucumber and mint salad to melt-in-the-mouth courgette cake.” Now who’s round is it?
Wow. Will have to stop in for a meal.